Friday, May 21, 2004



You are so fed-up of candyfloss teen movies that are regularly upchucked from the Bollywood factory, that Mani Ratnam’s take on contemporary urban youth was keenly awaited.

Unfortunately, his Yuva is just as superficial and clueless about urban youth as any ordinary film. From Mani Ratnam, one would expect a well-crafted film, and that he delivers—but a bit more research and a bit less bustle would have helped.

In a beginning borrowed from Amores Perros (et tu Mani?), the lives of three young men collide on Hooghly Bridge in Kolkata. Lallan (Abhishek Bachchan) a petty hoodlum shoots at student leader Michael (Ajay Devgan), whose life is saved by Arjun (Vivek Oberoi).

The film tells the stories of each of the three and how their lives are inexorably moving towards this collision. Lallan’s screechy wife Shashi (Rani Mukherjee) wants him to give up crime, but he is charmed by the power and wealth of a politician Prasanjit (Om Puri) and becomes his hired thug.

Lallan men clash with a group of student activists led by Michael. Exactly what the political equation is, what the students have to do with a village Panchayat election, how Prasanjit is involved is not made clear. How such a large bunch of overage men (and a few girls) are still in college is not explained either.

Arjun, waiting to go to the US, falls in love with a weird young woman Meera (Kareena Kapoor), who in turn is waiting to get married to a man in Kanpur! They get into a no-strings-attached romance, while Michael sporadically woos Radhika (Esha Deol).

After the three not-so-exciting stories are told (half of Lallan’s segment has him either beating his wife or in bed with her—which is not in the least interesting!), the film can move forward towards a climax so contrived and so laughably naïve, that you have to pinch yourself to believe this is from the man who made the complex political saga Iruvar.

Mani Ratnam is obviously out of his depth here, probably because it is a milieu he is not familiar with—this had been the biggest drawback of his earlier Hindi film, Dil Se, as well.

In a very convoluted way, Ratnam wants to say that the youth should participate in the country’s political process – noble intentions—but how come Ratnam’s youth power excludes women? Of his three leading ladies—all extremely irritating—one is a nag and the other two crackpots with no ambitions of their own, apart from following the guys around.

Yuva does not give that whiff of freshness that a youth film ought to have done, it just looks like a lot of stale ideas, overcooked till they are burnt to cinder.

Sure, the film looks good (Sabu Cyril could perhaps not cram the sets with so many props), no complaints with Ravi Chandran’s cinematography, Rahman’s music is so-so, the performances are just about okay (with Rani Mukherjee and Abhishek standing out simply because they have the most dramatic parts), but the film lets down an eager viewer with a painful thud!
From all Mani Ratnam films – even the flawed ones—you take back something, a moment, a tune, a face; Yuva is a complete blank.


Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

eXTReMe Tracker